Local organizations present a weeklong of engaging Baroque and Renaissance music

Houston Early Music Festival    February 11-19, 2017

Houston Early Music Festival

February 11-19, 2017

HOUSTON, TX – (January 5, 2017) – Five Houston music organizations join forces to stage an extravaganza of early music for the fifth anniversary of the Houston Early Music Festival, February 11-19, 2017 at venues across the city. Festival performances include the Houston debut of ensemble Profeti della Quinta, performing works of Salomone Rossi, an Italian Jewish composer who broke barriers of discrimination in the late Renaissance to become a renowned composer of the Mantuan court of the Gonzagas, a multi-media collaboration with Museum of Fine Arts Houston for Rameau’s Les Indes galantes, motets from the Bach family as well as J.S. Bach’s virtuosic cantata Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen for soprano and trumpet.

Outreach events include a vocal masterclass led by acclaimed soprano Sherezade Panthak, and a colloquium on Bach’s Little Organ Book, culminating in a performance of the entire work by organ students from Rice University and the University of Houston.

HEMF features a number of local and international early-music experts and recording artists including the ensemble Profeti della Quinta, Gregory Barnett (Chair of Musicology at Rice University), Kevin Clark (Piping Rock Singers Director), Matthew Dirst (Ars Lyrica Houston Artistic Director), Rick Erickson (Bach Society Houston Director), Nathaniel Mayfield (natural trumpet), Daniel Melamed (Professor of Musicology at Indiana University), Sherezade Panthaki (soprano), and Antoine Plante (Mercury Artistic Director). The Festival includes a wide array of early music repertoire, including masterpieces by Baroque composers J.S. Bach, Rameau, Scarlatti, and Vivaldi, as well as Renaissance works by composers Dering, Gibbons, and Janequin.

Seeking to capitalize on the local growth of early music programming and period-instrument expertise, HEMF was founded in 2011 as an international platform for showcasing Houston’s growing talent pool and flourishing early music organizations. HEMF 2017 is sponsored by partner organizations Ars Lyrica Houston, Bach Society Houston, Houston Early Music, Mercury, and Piping Rock Singers. The combined efforts of these distinctive and innovative early music organizations provide an excellent educational platform and multiple opportunities to bring greater awareness to Houston’s extraordinarily diverse and robust arts scene. The 2017 Houston Early Music Festival is generously funded in part by a grant from the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance, and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Friday, February 10, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. | Vocal Master Class 
Join the Houston Early Music Festival as we present a Vocal Master Class in partnership with the University of Houston, and Rice University. Soprano Sherezade Panthaki is quickly being recognized as one of early music's greatest stars, and she will coach students and professional singers in Baroque vocal performance practice. Audience members will learn about Baroque ornamentation, and the practices that made these forms the epitome of classical singing. Location TBA. Tickets and information:
Saturday, February 11, 2017 at 8 p.m. | Rameau’s Les Indes galantes (Mercury) 
Rameau’s music to the opera-ballet Les Indes galantes perfectly represents the French Baroque — now, experience this work in a unique collaboration with the Museum of Fine Arts Houston featuring a curated series of eighteenth century paintings projected behind the orchestra – a singular way to experience this music like never before. Wortham Center — Cullen Theater, 501 Texas Ave, Houston, TX 77002. Tickets and information: 
www.mercuryhouston.org or 713-533-0080.
Sunday, February 12, 2017 at 6 p.m. | Scalable Heights (Ars Lyrica Houston)

Fast passagework? High notes? No problem for the greatest virtuosos of the early 18th century, whose talents inspired some of the most spectacular music of the late Baroque. J. S. Bach’s Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen, one of the great showpieces of the soprano and trumpet repertoire, headlines a program that also includes showstoppers by Vivaldi and Scarlatti. Hobby Center for the Performing Arts — Zilkha Hall, 800 Bagby St, Houston, TX 77002. Tickets and information: 
www.arslyricahouston.org or 713-315-2525.
Thursday, February 16, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. | Bach’s Little Organ Book 
Bach’s Little Organ Book (Orgelbüchlein) consists of short pieces based on Lutheran hymns, which were designed to teach organ students various aspects of theory and technique. And what better group to perform this sublime collection than students from the University of Houston and Rice University organ departments! The students will play these marvelous works on the famous Bach Organ at Christ the King Lutheran Church, which was closely modeled after the instruments that Johann Sebastian himself played. Christ the King Lutheran Church, 2353 Rice Blvd, Houston, TX 77005. Tickets and information:
Friday, February 17, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. | Madrigals, Motets and Merryment (Piping Rock Singers)
The Piping Rock Singers presents Madrigals, Motets and Merryment, an evening of rarely heard street song style madrigals and beloved favorites. The program combines featured works by Dering, Gibbons and Janequin with a sampling of madrigals by other treasured Renaissance composers. Christ the King Lutheran Church, 2353 Rice Blvd, Houston, TX 77005. Tickets $40 or SAVE when purchasing with a Festival Pass (see below for pass information). For more information visit

Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. | Profeti della Quinta: Italian madrigals, instrumental pieces and Hebrew prayers by Salomone Rossi (Houston Early Music) 
Swiss-based vocal quintet Profetti della Quinta portrays the many-faceted art of Italian Jewish composer Salomone Rossi (c.1570–c.1630) as a court composer in the service of the Gonzaga family and as an innovator of devotional music for the synagogue, performing a selection of his Italian madrigals, instrumental pieces, and Hebrew prayers. Congregation Beth Israel, 5600 N. Braeswood, Houston, TX 77096.  Pre-concert viewing of documentary film The Search for Salomone Rossi at 6:30 p.m. Tickets and information:
Sunday, February 19, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. | Bach Family Motets(Bach Society Houston) 
The Bach family was enormous — Johann Sebastian had eight siblings and 20 children, many of them composers, and J.S. Bach almost certainly studied their compositions. Join us as we trace the development of this incredible, yet often-forgotten genre from the earliest works of the Bach clan, through Johann Sebastian’s marvelous Fürchte dich nicht, BWV 228 (“Be Not Afraid”), one of the pinnacles of western choral music. Christ the King Lutheran Church, 2353 Rice Blvd, Houston, TX 77005. Tickets and information: 

Individual tickets to concerts are available through respective organizations.
Discounted Festival Passes are available via phone at 713-533-0080 or online at www.houstonearlymusicfestival.org/tickets
Full Festival Pass – Enjoy four performances at a 25% discount! Prices: $131/$152
3 Concert Festival Pass – Choose three performances for a 20% discount! Prices: $106/$122
Piping Rock Add-On –$20 off Piping Rock banquet tickets when purchased with a Festival pass!

Early Music is music from the mid-18th century and before, music from the Baroque, Renaissance and Middle Ages. From the Gregorian chant to Bach’s organ works, Handel’s operas, and Vivaldi’s concertos, it is the most beautiful and exciting music from our Western heritage. Early music experts strive to revive forgotten masterpieces of past eras and give us a glimpse of how this music was performed: “what are those angels singing and playing in medieval paintings…what did queen Elizabeth I dance to, what entertained Louis XIV at dinner?” (Forrest Kelly, Thomas. Early Music: A Very Short Introduction. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Print.) Early music is performed on historical period instruments (or their replicas) because they produce livelier and more authentic sounds than their modern equivalents.

Founded in 1998 by harpsichordist and conductor Matthew Dirst, Ars Lyrica Houston presents a diverse array of music from the 17th and 18th centuries on period instruments. Its local subscription series, according to the Houston Chronicle, “sets the agenda” for early music in Houston and it also appears regularly at major festivals and conferences, including the 2014 Berkeley Early Music Festival & Exhibition. Ars Lyrica’s distinctive programming favors Baroque dramatic and chamber works, and its pioneering efforts have won international acclaim: the ensemble’s world première recording of Johann Adolf Hasse’s Marc’Antonio e Cleopatra, hailed by Early Music America as “a thrilling performance that glows in its quieter moments and sparkles with vitality,” was nominated for a Grammy Award® for Best Opera 2011. For more information, visit
Entering its 34th season, the Houston Chronicle calls Bach Society Houston “... the city’s major celebrant of Bach’s glorious legacy.” We bring rich, vibrant, historically-informed performances of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and his contemporaries to a diverse, enthusiastic audience through concerts, Bach Vespers, organ recitals, and chamber music concerts. Our resident ensembles consist of the Bach Choir Houston, a 16-voice professional choir, and the Bach Orchestra Houston, an ensemble with members from all over the United States performing on instruments from Bach’s time. We also present international instrumentalists, singers, and guest conductors. The Society’s mission is to presentrich, vibrant, historically-informed performances of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach and his contemporaries. For more information, visit

Initially formed in 1965 as the Houston Harpsichord Society, a small group of harpsichord enthusiasts that met in members' homes, the organization was officially incorporated as a professional organization in 1969. From this humble beginning, it has grown to become an organization that now provides performance opportunities for major early music artists from around the world in an annual concert series. As the city's only presenting organization dedicated to covering the large historical span of early music in all of its forms, Houston Early Music presents ensembles that are part of a movement that has swept the world of classical music: historically-informed performances of vocal, instrumental, and chamber music from the Middle Ages through the eighteenth century, using period instruments. For more information, visit
Founded in 2000, Mercury offers performances of a broad repertoire of music on period instruments and has garnered critical acclaim around the world.  The orchestra performs more than 50 concerts a year, including a seven-concert Downtown series at the Wortham Center’s Cullen Theater which features distinctive programs like multi-media collaborations American Skies and last year’s audience favorite Bach & Piazzolla and world-class concerts with guest artists like mezzo-soprano Susan Graham and early music specialist and conductor Harry Bicket.  Mercury extends its reach outside the formal concert hall with its Neighborhood Series, bringing casual, affordable and intimate hour-long performances to four Houston neighborhoods. Mercury is redefining the orchestra’s role in the community under the artistic leadership of Antoine Plante. Through its vibrant and inspiring performances, award-winning education programs, and world-class music on period instruments, Mercury is celebrating its commitment of making the power and passion of music accessible to all. For more information, visit
The Piping Rock Singers were formed in 1995 by a group of like-minded Houstonian church choir musicians who love the repertoire of the Medieval and Renaissance periods. The organization is directed by Kevin Clarke and dedicated to increasing the familiarity, understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of the wealth of beautiful sacred and secular music composed from c. 900–1750. The Piping Rock Singers presents several concerts per year to diverse audiences in a wide variety of venues. Although a significant portion of its repertoire is performed a cappella, period instrument accompaniment is included where appropriate. Many of the organization’s concerts include an educational component and some feature detailed lectures on the group of works being performed. The Piping Rock Singers also make recordings, focusing on lesser-known, rarely heard music from those periods. For more information, visit


For images, logos and bios please see: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/90df6yp6fi011sj/AACQcf7Poqr_zuWEZBLdDzVLa?dl=0

Press Contacts: 

Ars Lyrica Houston
Jacqueline Altobelli, jaltobelli@arslyricahouston.org, (713) 622-7443
Bach Society Houston
Laurie Hewett, 
lhewett@bachsocietyhouston.org, (713) 400-0514
Houston Early Music
Nancy Ellis, 
info@houstonearlymusic.org, (281) 846-4222

Katie DeVore, 
katie@mercuryhouston.org, (713) 533-0080
Piping Rock Singers
Alys Dyke,